And then there were two.
The Kansas City Royals and New York Mets were able to outlast the rest of the pack to clinch a birth into the 2015 World Series. If you had that at the beginning of the season, I hope you put a lot of money down, because for many this match-up came out of nowhere. This battle pits strength against strength as they both rely on outstanding pitching and complementary hitting. In a lot of ways, it just feels as if this series is built to go seven games. So, let’s find out the key match-ups and factors that will decide who win this year’s fall classic.
Got to score early
As I said before, both teams have outstanding pitching, once you get behind early good luck coming back. In the case of starting pitching, the Mets gain the edge largely due to their aspect of Jacob Degrom, Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey and Steven Matz. Already shown this postseason, they’ve carried this club and from here this shouldn’t change. From the Royals perspective, they must do anything they can to disrupt the Mets’ young starters. Reading their pitches accordingly and attacking can rattle them. The Royals hitters have been exceptional once they’ve seen the starter for the third time. Also, it will help if the Royals can generate runs unconventionally, by the use of the stolen base or bunts, similar to what they did in last year’s postseason.
However, that task is much easier said than done. If the Royals allow New York’s starters to get comfortable early it could be a short series for the Kansas City offense. With that being said, the Mets are in the same situation as the Royals are in. The Mets are facing a good, but not great starting rotation that depends on their dominant bullpen to shorten the game. Despite Johnny Cueto’s troubles this postseason; Edinson Volquez and hard-thrower Yordano Ventura pose match-ups that could be difficult to Mets’ hitters. The Royals essentially have rode off 5-6 innings of quality starts thus far, and their middle relievers have saved them. Luke Hochevar and Kris Medlen so far have bridged the closing roles for Kelvin Herrera and Wade Davis admirably this October.
The main deciding factor will be whichever team is able to score some early runs and take the pressure off their pitching staff. Kansas City has the edge defensively and bullpen depth to win one-run games late.
Royals must slow down Daniel Murphy
Daniel Murphy’s price tag has skyrocketed as he’s played out of his mind this postseason. He has put up historic numbers hitting .421 with seven homers and 11 RBIs. He set a postseason record with six straight games with a home run, just unthinkable for what’s done for the Mets so far. I think it’s safe to say that if the Mets didn’t have Daniel Murphy their situation would be completely different.
It would be in the Royals best interest to find a way cool down his bat in order to win this series. With Curtis Granderson and Yoenis Cespedes at the top of New York’s batting order to protect him. There isn’t much margin of error for Kansas City’s pitchers to work with.
In sports, experience plays a huge part in championships and the Royals have endured it all during its last two seasons. By losing in a heartbreaking Game 7 to the hands of World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner and the Giants. Last year’s loss has propelled this Royals team all-season to get back to the World Series. To say that Kansas City is a resilient bunch is an understatement. It’s seemed that this postseason, whenever their backs have been pressed up against the walls, they’ve delivered.
The Royals have outscored it’s opponent through both the divisional and championship series by 20 runs from the 7th inning on. This should in fact, bode well for the Royals all together.
Most of the Royals starting lineup grew together this season and the toughness is showing. On the other hand, the Mets haven’t experienced a World Series atmosphere since 2000. With so many young players, its essential none of them get caught up in the moment.
The little things
Since both teams have dominant pitching staffs, it’s going to come down to who can play the cleanest games; what I mean by that is no errors, no walks, and no extra outs. Also, the team that decides to put pressure on the defense by pushing the envelope will come out victorious.
The Royals have neglected the base stealing aspect of their game this postseason with Terrance Gore and Jarrod Dyson, although both will need to be watched closely. Stealing bases is unconventional for the Mets, as they don’t steal many bases. However, they might have to in order to take this series. As hot as Daniel Murphy is hitting, manager Terry Collins shouldn’t be opposed to using him and Cespedes on the base path. This option could open up more opportunities for bigger innings down the road.
Most importantly, depth is big concern. New York will have to adapt their lineup at the start of this series in an American League ballpark. So the possible route of moving either Lucas Duda or Yoenis Cespedes to DH changes the game drastically. With Cespedes sitting out on defense, this helps Kansas City’s offense. Rookie outfielder Michael Conforto has been an adventure in RF and suspect defense will kill the Mets chances.
Also, don’t forget the name Paulo Orlando. The Royals have used Orlando temporarily as a pinch runner. But once the series switches to Citi Field. Designated hitter Kendrys Morales will only be limited to one at-bat. To fill-in his role, expect Orlando to dispense Rios in RF for an added pop in the lineup.
This series is going to be like a heavyweight-boxing match. This potentially might turn into a classic seven-game series, due to both teams being evenly matched. As of now, I give the Royals the slightest of edges, due to having home field advantage on their side plus a dominate bullpen. If the Royals bullpen is on its game, it won’t be asking too much out of their starters, especially if they have a lead.